Our Blog

April 27, 2010 By Hendrik-Jan Francke

Boost search engine rankings by defining what your page is about

In our previous blog post, 3 ways to tell if your website is search engine friendly, we briefly mentioned that we used semantic HTML to help search engines find important content on a page. We thought it would be a good idea to explain what we meant by that a little more.

When it comes to completely ethical white-hat search engine optimization, using semantic HTML is one of the most important tactics to driving more traffic to your site. By making the content clear and digestible to the search engines, semantic HTML alone can improve search rankings in an incredible way.

First, let's take a look at the tech speak…

If you're not all that familiar with the technology behind web design and search engine optimization, that’s okay—the behind-the-scenes technical stuff is rather complicated after all. But the concept isn’t too difficult to grasp. So what does "semantic HTML" even mean in the first place? Well, the word "semantic" can loosely be defined as "having meaning." The term "HTML
is just an acronym for the computer coding language of HyperText Markup Language.

Semantic HTML in Plain English

Semantic HTML is web code with hints and tips built in to help the search engines do their jobs better, while improving the human reader’s experience at the same time.

When we—us humans—look at a web page, we can find the headline very quickly. Years of experience with reading newspapers, magazines, and websites have taught us a few conventions about headlines—they tend to be in large type, at the top of the page. We search out these headlines because we know they tell us what the page is all about.

However, when a search engine spiders the page, it looks at the code for the web page (a search engine can’t look at the visual rendering of the web page—it doesn’t have eyes or a visual cortex). A web page is made up of various code, including heading tags (h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6). Each tag holds a special meaning for the content within the tag.

For example, the h1 tag points search engines to the most important message on the page (the page’s headline). It tells the search engine, "This is the most important sentence. Look for keywords here." The h2 tag points search engines to the second most important information, and so on. Search engines like Google then compare the keywords in the headline to keywords entered by users. The search engine looks for the most relevant web pages to return as results.

Google claims it uses pigeons to pick relevant web page results, but we know that’s just not true. Semantic HTML is a big part of it! Thus, a more descriptive and specific headline that contains important keywords will help increase your ranking and help you drive more traffic to your site.

Now, let’s look at an example…

If your pest extermination company offered a specific service for removing odorous ants, then you would want to make sure that specific service page reflected that. Simply stating, "We stop invasions to your home!," is okay, but it doesn’t really define what the page is about. Home invasions could refer to anything. Do you stop invasions of termites, hornets, burglars, or odorous ants? A better headline would be "Protect your home from odorous ants with our powerful removal system." Now the headline (and h1 tag) contains the keywords "odorous ants," "home," and "removal," and the service page is more accurately defined.

Climb to the top of search engine results!

If watching your website climb to the top of search engine rankings sounds like a pretty good idea, it’s time to have Bright Orange Thread optimize your site with semantic HTML.

Get More Bright Ideas

Improve your website & online marketing strategy with resources, tips, and insights delivered to your inbox every 2 weeks.

Subscribe to the Bright Orange Thread Content Library today for instant access to these resources!

Sign up today!